The NBA’s rulebook leaves very little room for ambiguity on this type of thing. When a player or coach makes “intentional” contact with a referee, they are more than likely to be suspended:
“Any player or coach guilty of intentional physical contact with an official shall automatically be suspended without pay for one game. A fine and/or longer period of suspension will result if circumstances so dictate.”
Rajon Rondo, who was enraged with a referee’s call late in the Boston Celtics’ Game 1 loss to the Atlanta Hawks last night, earned himself an ejection after making contact with referee Marc Davis.
According to Rondo, his chest-bump of the ref wasn’t a purposefully angry response to a call. Rajon, who was suspended earlier this season for whipping the ball at a ref, can only hope the League buys his explanation. Per WEEI:
“Obviously I was upset about the call,” Rondo said. “I said some words to Marc. I deserved the first tech. As I was walking, I thought he stopped. My momentum carried me into him. I even think I tripped on his foot. I didn’t intentionally chest-bump him. But that’s what it appears to be.”
“They all thought I was obviously in the wrong,” Rondo said. “It may seem like I bumped him, but like I said, I didn’t intentionally chest-bump him. I know the rules. Like I said, my momentum carried me into him. I thought he stopped.”
The NBA will make its decision on what further punishment Rajon Rondo deserves — if any — soon enough.
UPDATE: It’s official — Rondo will miss Tuesday night’s Game 2.